Expressive, Mental Health, Photography as Vocation, Writing

Working on Me

Yesterday and today, I’ve been doing some internal housekeeping.

I rarely look at them anymore, but I felt compelled yesterday morning to get out the journals I kept from my last inpatient stay at the Local Friendly Mental Ward.

For the most part, the theme of my journals was outwardly-centered:  I was worried about other people, not myself.  In fact, I could not concentrate at all on myself, as if it was a defense mechanism against falling apart completely.

That’s a theme of what happens when I go psychotic:  I worry too much about other people, with pretty much no worry at all about what’s going on inside myself.

It happened when I was 17:  I was worried about a good girlfriend.

It happened when I was 18:  I was worried about a boyfriend.

It happened when I was 19:  I was worried about another good girlfriend.

It happened when I was 28:  I was worried about my employer.

It happened when I was 30:  I was worried about yet another girlfriend and my employer.

That’s the run-down, simplified.  There were side scenarios I was worried about each time as well, but above were the triggers.  Stress from worry made me unable to appropriately speak my worries to people who could have helped.

As an aside, I had this epiphany this morning.  I’m pretty proud of it, because I’ve rarely been able to put into words exactly what happens when I’m psychotic.  But, here it is:

When I’m psychotic, the part of my brain that can speak logically shuts down and starts spitting out garbledy-gook from my mouth, if anything at all, when it’s really bad.  My memory continues running just fine, as does most of my thought patterns.  I can, in fact, think back and remember exactly what it was I was thinking at a given time during most of my various psychotic episodes and I can now verbalize what thought patterns sent me to those places.  My brain doesn’t really make up stuff, it’s just that the filter comes off and various SNAFUs get jumbled up such that it sends me into sort of a state of shock.  My behavior appears erratic because generally, whatever I’m worried about has me frightened beyond all reason.

I think it could be helpful, if I start showing psychotic symptoms ever again, for someone to ask me what I’m afraid of.  Chances are, I’ll be terrified of something if I’m in that place.  Judging by the journals I kept during my inpatient time at the Local Friendly Mental Ward, it might be easier for me to write it than for me to talk about it.  For some reason, it looks like I’m able to write a little more coherently than I can speak during times like that.

It just occurred to me that this ability to look back and analyze the situation rationally, as I did above, may be the key to avoiding psychosis in the future.  And maybe if I can talk about my fears when I’m heading down that path, it could minimize the damage.

Anyway, back to worry about other people with these stupid episodes.  Are other people a trigger?  Not of themselves.  Worry about people close to me is a trigger.  I cannot get involved in other people’s affairs.  I can care from afar, that’s it.

So how am I to be a social person if other people are triggers for me?  It boils down to healthy boundaries.  I had no boundaries for a very long time, due in large part to that stinking crazy relationship I had with S. years ago.  That relationship set the benchmark for how I was to behave until I met Jared, who has been patient enough to re-correct me along the way when I started to develop unhealthy boundaries in our relationship.

Healthy boundaries, to me, means not listening to idle gossip.  It means not letting someone else’s problems become my problems.  It means loving someone without taking personal responsibility for their actions.

Luckily for me, I worked my little tail off during the last outpatient treatment sessions at the Local Friendly Mental Ward.  I absorbed everything I heard and I meant business during every exercise.  That 10-point mood scale I posted yesterday was one of the products of my work there.  Below is the chart of how I decided I want to balance my time.  I’ve failed miserably in the last most of a year with this task.

It’s not that I don’t want to be productive or have fun; that’s not why I’ve failed for the past few months.  I don’t think I can blame it all on depression, either.  It’s that for not-so-healthy people like me it’s not such an easy task.  When I first met people on disability that had laissez-faire schedules, waking up at 10 in the morning and the like, I balked at them.  I couldn’t imagine getting so out-of-whack with my schedule.  But like so many other situations in my life, now that I’ve been through it, I realize that it is not wise to judge. I’ve been there, now, and it’s not as easy at it seems to have so much time on one’s hands.

Enough for now; I’m drained.

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